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Opportunity Center tries to keep El Paso’s homeless population safe amid virus pandemic

EL PASO, Texas-- The Opportunity Center for the Homeless has always adapted to an open door policy. In years past that meant dealing with overcrowding, but it was never something them center could not handle. With the outbreak of Covid-19 there are now fears of what large crowds will do to the safety of everyone involved.

"We open our door to all individuals regardless of mental and or physical characteristics in response to the pandemic at this point, and that has resulted in a very overcrowded situation," John Martin the deputy director of the Opportunity Center said.

The Center housed more than 110 men and nearly 50 women, making it a challenge to enforce social distancing. Officials at the center have had to get created in how they house their population to keep everyone safe.

"It appears to be a tent city, we have 10 by 10 foot awnings out there and we are encoring those who can sleep outside so that we can maximize the space inside… We’ve gotten our numbers down to about 70, where the ideal number would be 50, but you can see we’ve made some improvement," Martin said.

The Center has more plans to help deal with the growing number of those in need. Marin reached out to El Paso County officials to expand their resources to include an overflow shelter.

"We have identified a location for an alternate overflow shelter, if everything goes as planned that should be in place by Wednesday evening. What we will do, we will get the numbers down to where they need to be so we can meet CDC guidelines," Martin said.

The center has seen its number of volunteers dwindle due to fears of Covid-19, they ask for anyone with the ability to make a donation to do so at this link.

Coronavirus Video / Health / News / Video

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

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